Tea Tree Players’ production of Beauty and the Beast, a pantomime by Ben Crocker, was directed by Penny and Mike Phillips. I don’t think it could be called a traditional panto! Felix the poodle is the narrator, with a French accent; it is set in 18th century France, although there were some aspects of present day situations and place names… and the “Dame” appears briefly as a man!
The audience reaction and participation were encouraged as usual, and the fourth wall was often broken with excellent effects – especially by Felix.
I think that Rhi Shapcott, as Malabelle the Witch, stole the show whenever she appeared on stage. Her presence, volume of voice and her cackles were powerfully BAD! (“boo, hiss!).
Felix, the French black poodle, was flirty and funny with his accent and dog-like characterisation by Zack Brittan.
Tim Cousins, as “Ma” was hilarious and convincingly a man playing a woman playing a man! His volume and energy were enormous.
Annika Barry as Capucine had a lovely singing voice. Clinton Nitschke wowed us with his Beast performance.
Casio the Talking Clock by Theresa (Lilly) Dolman was cleverly cheeky; the Bear Rug Magnus Phillips was entertaining and the 3 Little Snowflakes (Elsie Hasler, Emma Mileson and Jessica Mileson) danced delightfully. The chase scenes with the wolves in the forest was also memorable!
There were too many other songs, actors, dancers and characters to mention individually, who all created a good overall performance, although sometimes their voices weren’t projected loudly enough, so the audience could not hear their words.
Penny Phillips’ set design was cleverly done with easy changes using multiple layers of sets and curtains. Jo Allenby and the Monday Club sewing group created some incredible costumes – I especially liked the clock, dressing table and bear. Malabelle’s makeup was stunning. There were many great props provided by Beth Venning and Pat Lewis too.
The group songs needed more volume and enthusiasm. However I’m sure that was booked-out Opening Night nerves and that it will improve with more performances. Choreography was very good and simple and everyone was in sync. Well done Michaela Arnold!
Music, sounds and special effects by Mike Phillips were excellent. And last but not least, we loved Lilly’s program design, especially with the puzzle on the back.
Beauty and the Beast is on at Tea Tree Players Theatre until 11 December. So go along and enjoy this fun version of this favourite!